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  1. Vegan Refried Beans

    May 16, 2011 by Lisa

    I was a little random last time I made these – this is what I think I did!

    Rinse and drain one package of dried pinto beans and place in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and soak over night. By morning, they will have absorbed most of the water, so add additional water so that they are, again, covered with water. Pour into a large saucepan and add:

    • 3-6 gloves of garlic, crushed
    • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon powdered cumin

    Simmer slowly for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are very tender. Make sure the pan does not run dry and add additional water periodically if needed. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher. Stir in about a cup (I used three heaping desert spoons, which I think was close to a cup) of shortening or margarine until well-absorbed.

    If you’re not concerned with a vegan version, lard is more traditional as is soaking the beans overnight with a hamhock or some bacon drippings!


  2. Cornershop Tom Kha

    April 25, 2011 by Lisa

    I call this Cornershop Tom Kha because it uses ingredients I can easily get at my local cornershop. Well, except the fresh chicken breast, actually, but I usually have that anyway. Oh and the fish sauce…

    • 2 skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 1 can coconut milk
    • 1 cup chicken broth (fresh or from bullion)
    • 10 or so slices of fresh ginger root
    • 2 or 3 fresh hot red peppers or a couple teaspoons of chopped jarred red peppers
    • Kaffir lime leaves (not really necessary, but nice if it’s around)
    • 1 lime
    • Fresh button mushrooms
    • 5 or 6 peppercorns
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
    • Fresh coriander

    Heat the coconut milk, broth, ginger, lime leaves (or some lime zest), juice of half the lime, red peppers and the peppercorns just to the boil then turn down to simmer. Add the chicken pieces and mushrooms (baby corn is good here too) and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat, add the fish sauce and the rest of the lime juice and serve. Top with fresh coriander leaves and serve with rice. Easy, fast, delicious and you’d never know there were no authentic ingredients in there. Or not many…

    (By the way, this version is much better than the previous one.)


  3. Panna Cotta

    May 7, 2010 by Lisa

    Here’s a version of Panna Cotta that’s measured in “new money” for those without American style measuring cups.

    Note: 1 1/2 gelatine sachets can be used, but be extra careful to let them dissolve completely as per the instructions on the pack. When I used them, the gelatine sunk to the bottom of the bowl and created a hard, rubbery shell on the top that needed to be removed, leaving the panna cotta as a rather unattractive – if highly tasty – blob.

    Ingredients:

    • 600ml double cream
    • 200ml milk
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 2 vanilla pods
    • 4 leaves gelatine

    Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for at least 4-5 minutes.

    Place the cream, milk, and sugar a saucepan. Split the vanilla pods lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Slowly bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.

    Squeeze the gelatine leaves of excess water one by one and stir into the cream mixture until dissolved.

    Divide the panna cotta mixture between several ramekins or pour into a medium-sized mold.

    Cool and then chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours until set – overnight if you use one bowl.


  4. Borsch(t)

    December 2, 2008 by Lisa

    I was looking for a recipe for a borsch similar to what I had at the very lovely Troikka in Helsinki some months ago. This, sadly, isn’t it. Nice, but not right. Part of the problem is that I couldn’t find fresh beetroot, only vacuum-packed, precooked. I also think that it would be nice if the vegetables were pureed prior to adding back the cubed beetroot.

    Stock:

    • 1 kilo stewing beef
    • 1 carrot, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 2 liters water

    Soup:

    • 2 carrots, julienned
    • 1 small head cabbage, sliced thinly
    • 8 small cooked beetroots, cubed
    • 1/3 red onion
    • 250gm tomato paste
    • juice of half a lemon
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • salt, pepper
    • fresh dill
    • soured cream

    For the stock, cover the beef in water, add a bit of salt and bring to the boil. Skim off the scum that forms and reduce to a simmer. Add the carrot and celery and cook for at least an hour and a half. I actually cooked it for nearly three. When it’s done, put the meat aside and strain the stock.

    Add the cabbage and cook for 15 minutes. Add the julienned carrots and onion and cook an additional 15 minutes. Add the cubed beetroot, tomato paste and lemon juice and cook another 15 minutes. Mix the flour with a little water and stir into the soup. Finally add the meat back to the soup and cook until thickened.

    Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with dill and soured cream.


  5. Tuna Tataki

    April 1, 2008 by Lisa

    Tuna Tataki is simply fresh tuna seared lightly and sliced thinly. I like it with spicy ponzu sauce: light soy, lime juice, rice vinegar, dashi, 7 spices powder and a bit of tabasco for some extra spiciness.


  6. Balsamic Grilled Onions

    November 20, 2006 by Lisa

    Lovely, lovely, sweet red onions. No one in my household liked onions when I made this, so this made just enough for me, me, me (plus a little extra). Would have been nice with some sliced fennel grilled with the onions, I expect.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium sized red opinion, sliced into thin slices
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1 clove minced or crushed garlic
    • salt and pepper

    Heat the vinegar, garlic and rosemary in a sauce pan until hot, but don’t let it boil. Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes. If it seems that a lot of balsamic has evaporated off, add another tablespoon or so. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Place the onions in a single layer in the pan and coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned. Toss with the vinegar mixture.

    Especially nice with any sort of pork dish.


  7. Ragu alla Bolognese

    November 11, 2006 by Lisa

    This is my take on the classic ragu of Bologna. Pretty close to the original, with the exception of veal and giblets and other meaty things that make it even more incredibly rich than this recipe using cream.

    Ingredients:

    • 500grams minced beef
    • 2 carrots, chopped
    • 1 shallot, chopped
    • 45 grams pancetta, cubed
    • wineglass of red or white wine
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk or cream
    • salt and ground pepper
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • half a tube of double concentrate tomato paste
    • olive oil

    Brown the pancetta in the olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the carrots and shallots and cook until limp. Add minced beef and brown. mix together tomato paste, broth and wine and add to the browned beef. Add salt and pepper to taste (a couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a few shakes of salt). Cover and simmer for half an hour or so. Add the milk or cream a little at a time, stir and simmer uncovered a bit longer, maybe 15 minutes or so.

    Serve with penne, or preferably, fresh tagliatelle.


  8. Balsamic Chicken

    November 6, 2006 by Lisa

    Sadly not terribly photogenic, so there’s no piccie, but was it quick, easy and delicious.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 skinless chicken breast fillets
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • salt and pepper

    Pound chicken breasts to about 1/4-inch thickness. Dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the chicken until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove chicken to a platter and keep warm. Add vinegar, broth and garlic to the frying pan and cook over a medium-high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced. Stir in the butter to finish. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.


  9. Plum Chicken

    October 22, 2006 by Lisa

    Ingredients:

    • 3 large plums (8 oz or so), pitted
    • 1 tblsp butter
    • 1/2 small chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup (scant) brown sugar
    • 2 tblsp sweet chili sauce
    • 1 tblsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 3 skinless chicken breasts

    Puree the plums in a blender or food processor. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and cook until soft. Stir in the plums, sugar, chili sauce, lemon juice and soy sauce and cook uncovered until slightly thickened. Place the chicken breasts in an oven pan, lightly salt and pepper them and cover with 1/4 of the sauce.

    Cook in a hot oven for 15 minutes, turn the chicken over and add another 1/4 of the sauce. Cook another 15 minutes or until cooked through. 5 minutes before the end, add the rest of the sauce.


  10. Ranch Dressing

    July 6, 2006 by Lisa

    I can’t seem to find decent ranch dressing in the shops anymore. Nevermind. I’ve figured out my own, very easy version. The only downside is that it’s quite thin, but is nice and subtle-tasting at least.

    Buttermilk is often difficult to find (although Tesco now sell it), so I make my own by stirring a tablespoon of lemon juice into half a cup of whole milk and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, creme fraiche or sour cream
    • 1/2 a vegetable stock cube
    • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 and a bit teaspoon dill

    Mix or shake well.